Chelsea have broken the bank to sign Romelu Lukaku after he scored 24 Serie A goals for Inter Milan in 2020-21
Chelsea have broken the bank to sign Romelu Lukaku after he scored 24 Serie A goals for Inter Milan in 2020-21

Holders Chelsea finished fourth in the Premier League last season, securing Champions League football on the final day.

They enjoyed a strong end to the season after manager Thomas Tuchel’s appointment in January, climbing from ninth in the league to eventually finish in the top four — just one point above Leicester.

A win over the Foxes in the penultimate week of the campaign gave Chelsea the advantage on the final day.

As Brendan Rodgers’ men lost to Tottenham in their last match of the season, the Blues hung on to fourth spot despite losing their final game 2-1 to Aston Villa.

But even if they had missed out on a top-four place, Chelsea would have qualified automatically after beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final in Porto.

Chelsea's Champions League group

Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit, Malmo

Read more: Champions League guide — Group F in focus

European history

Chelsea's Premier League season was a campaign of two halves, as they significantly improved under Thomas Tuchel
Chelsea's Premier League season was a campaign of two halves, as they significantly improved under Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel’s outfit are the current European champions after Kai Havertz's goal secured the trophy in late May.

The German latched onto a Mason Mount through-ball and rounded goalkeeper Ederson, before passing it into an empty net.

To reach the final, the Blues topped their group and beat Atletico Madrid and Porto in the knockout stages, before defeating Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-final.

It was their second Champions League triumph, having previously won the competition in 2012 when they beat Bayern Munich on penalties.

They also reached the final in 2008, when they lost to Manchester United in rainy Moscow, with then-captain John Terry famously slipping and hitting the post with his spot-kick in the penalty shootout.

Chelsea have won the Europa League on two occasions and the Cup Winners’ Cup twice too.

Additionally, the West Londoners added their second Super Cup to their trophy cabinet this August after beating Europa League winners Villarreal on penalties.

Expectations

Chelsea will be looking to win their second Champions League in a row — something that has only been managed by Real Madrid in the past 30 years.

As last season’s champions, the Blues are one of the favourites and have added quality to their squad with the big-money signing of Romelu Lukaku.

He will bring goals to a group that already has a solid defence, with Chelsea keeping 11 clean sheets in 19 Premier League matches under Tuchel last season.

Star man: Romelu Lukaku

Chelsea will be confident that Romelu Lukaku can repeat his goalscoring exploits from last season at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea will be confident that Romelu Lukaku can repeat his goalscoring exploits from last season at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea signed Lukaku for a whopping £97.5million this summer in one of the top 10 most expensive transfers ever.

And when you add up the fees that Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United and Inter Milan have paid for the 28-year-old over his career it equals £291m, making Lukaku the most expensive footballer in history.

The Belgian striker led Inter to their first Serie A title since 2010 last season, scoring 30 goals in all competitions.

He returns to the club where he started his Premier League career in 2011 and after netting on his second debut at Arsenal, he will be on the hunt for more silverware at Stamford Bridge.

One to watch: Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz is a versatile operator who can have an impact in wide or central areas
Kai Havertz is a versatile operator who can have an impact in wide or central areas

Havertz did not have the best of starts to his Chelsea career last season but his form picked up under Tuchel and the winning goal against City was the crowning moment.

The 22-year-old joined Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2020, for a fee that could rise as high as £71m.

While at Leverkusen, the Germany international was seen as one of the best young players in Europe.

The midfielder was Die Werkself’s top scorer in the two seasons before he moved to West London and was in the Bundesliga’s team of the season in 2019.

He will be hoping to have a similar impact over the coming campaign.

The boss: Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel is viewed as one of the brightest tactical minds in the game and has turned Chelsea’s fortunes around since arriving in January.

He won 11 of his 19 league matches in charge last season, with the Blues only conceding 13 goals in that time.

Tuchel started his managerial career with Mainz and Dortmund in Germany, before taking over at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the league twice and took the club all the way to the Champions League final.

He has often favoured a three-man defence using wing-backs and two holding midfielders at Chelsea, and rotates his starting line-up regularly.

The 47-year-old’s success in the Champions League over the past two seasons shows he knows what is needed to succeed in Europe — and this side will fancy their chances of winning the continent’s premier competition once again in 2021-22.

All information correct as of 10am, September 2, 2021

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